I wake up in our climate controlled motel room and I feel hungover. I am just a little bit dehydrated from crying, and I am also tired from the ringer my feelings have put me through. I am tired in general in my brain- but my body feels good. My body wants to walk.
It’s 6:00AM. I debate sleeping more and when I close my eyes no more sleep comes. It is the last day of the month (I love new months) and something inside of me is humming low and hard. I need to walk or shower or drink coffee or something. I gently slide out of bed to find my clothes amidst the explosion of my things, careful not to wake Carrot— but she does anyway.
“C’mere” she says, and I do. We hug quietly for a few minutes and I decide that maybe I don’t have to run to walk or shower or get coffee. I can stay right here instead.
We slowly prepare to leave the hotel room. I cut some athletic pants that Carrot got me at the thrift store into shorts that make me look like a super hero and have the added bonus of completely covering my inner thigh chafe. I KT tape my knees. I scrub the burned bits out of the bottom of my titanium pot. I eat leftover fajita veggies and beans and carrots and hummus and olives and blueberries in an attempt to consume all of our heavy perishables.
We’re meeting Deanna 20 miles in from the trailhead. Even with our cache, we have a long dry stretch and Carrot and I devise a plan to work around that. Our topo map seems to indicate that there is both a creek and a stream up some steep abandoned forest roads that eventually spit out to the TRT. We guess that taking this route will shave off about five miles of walking, add two more water sources for our day, and I am also excited to work on my navigation skills without the Guthook app leading me in a circle. Working with GPS makes navigation ridiculously easy, but I’ve never done anything in these here outdoors, so I tell ya- I’ve really got a lot to learn when I don’t have the app to guide me.
We eat lunch at Taco Bell (yes, one can easily be vegan at Taco Bell and holy shit do you know how cheap Taco Bell is?! Wow.) When I give my name to the cashier she spells it M-A-R-F-Y. MARFY! I haven’t gone by my given name in a few months now and it feels exciting to hear any variation on the name I chose myself. Have you ever just gone right out and named yourself? It’s its very own special kind of empowering, you should try it.
I decide that Marfy is a beautiful perfect name, and I can’t stop thinking of it and giggling. we head right out of town and onto a road that leads up, up, up through residential nowhere and onto the forest roads, me laughing at Marfy and blessing Carrot with the new nickname Carnit. We climb, we take turns checking GPS, we listen to an audiobook called When Life Gives You Lululemons that as far as we can tell is about how men, marriage, cops and rich people are all very bad. The miles pass easily and without much to report beyond the fact that Carnit packed out a tiny frozen vegan and gluten free pie which she strapped to the top of her pack and thawed perfectly in the sunlight. We eat it while sitting on giant rocks and I marvel at this off trail road: the forest is good and beautiful even when it is supposedly abandoned and unkempt. I love to be in the forest.
We reach Deanna at 6:45 and she has meticulously labeled gallons of water for each of us, plus she brought us ice cold La Croix, which we pound immediately. We stash our trash in Deanna’s truck (I fucking love getting rid of trash weight!) and we set out with newly heavy water packs and a buddy to boot!
We hike just a mile and a half more toward a lookout that is said to be the nicest view of the TRT. This is saying a fucking LOT. What’s the most beautiful thing of all the most beautiful things?! I am doubtful that beauty can be ranked but then the rumors are true: the rocks, the light, the lake on both sides- It’s fucking wild and I can’t stop thinking about how fortunate I am, to be here in this place. Everything was hard yesterday, but today it feels easy- my knees handling the terrain without problem and the static in my brain fizzling out.
We cook our dinners and talk about gear and the milage plan for the next day. We clean our pots and pitch our tents. I blow up my neoair and fluff my quilt, burrowing in. Carrot asks me if I know I’m worthy of love again, and I think a minute, scanning my body for how I feel.
My body is strong even when I am sad, I realize. Even if my body doesn’t feel strong, sadness doesn’t make me weak.
I am a byproduct of a million things: from incredible luck to rampant abuse. I remember that everyone I’ve ever cared for is wildly imperfect and still, I find compassion. I decide maybe I am not that much different then everyone that I’ve ever cared for, and so today I respond with yes. They are worthy of love. I am worthy of love. We are all worthy of love.
Carrot reaches for my hand and smiles in the dark.
With that, we sleep.